Why Cook Quinoa?

The Quick Health Food of Choice

Simple... wholesome.Credit: David Niblack

Simple and easy recipes require little more than a healthy imagination and a resourceful spirit and of all the quick healthy whole foods, quinoa (pronounced "qeen-wa") ranks among the top. As a complete protein, there's no need to worry about combining it with beans. It cooks faster than rice (~15 minutes vs ~45) and will last virtually forever in its dried state. The below sections on cooking quinoa and quinoa recipes will provide an entry into the endless culinary world of this marvelous staple, quinoa.

Quinoa's quick cooking time makes it a quick healthy food. In order to make quick healthy meals from it, however, it's important to keep some basics on hand:

  • Quinoa (of course!) - buy in bulk from health food stores
  • Fresh veggies (frozen when out-of-season) - in season, buy from local small farmers. Also, don't let the common wild edibles go to waste! (Intro wild edible lesson)
  • Tahini - organic is the important qualification here
  • Peanut butter - no hydrogenated oils (learn why!)
  • Tomato paste - organic is best
  • Braggs liquid aminos - the one and only!

Following the adage "you are what you eat," consider buying high quality organic ingredients. Sure, lower quality conventional ingredients will yield a similar meal, but it won't be as healthy or delicious. And therein lies the value of eating simple food made from simple recipes: buying less enables one to buy the higher priced quality ingredients. Yes, organic food is expensive when diets are high in processed "convenience" food, but not when when diets consist primarily of cooking simple, easy, and healthy whole food recipes.

Cooking Quinoa

To cook quinoa:

  1. Rinse the grain
  2. Combine in a pot with a little almost 2x the amount of liquid as quinoa (making a 1:1.9 grain to liquid ratio)
  3. Bring the contents to a boil
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer
  5. Cover
  6. Simmer for ~15 minutes
  7. Fluff and enjoy!

Note: Though this method is the quickest, some prefer the longer (~30 minutes) method of first bringing it to a simmer and then reduce to low.

Quinoa Recipes

With cooked quinoa, simple and easy recipes are endless.

The simplest:

  1. Stir approximately 2Tbs of tahini or peanut butter (making this a two-in-one recipe!) to the cooked quinoa
  2. Add any desired fresh veggies to the cooked quinoa. Shreded carrots are a personal favorite!
  3. Steam or saute some leafy greens (kale, chard, spinach, poc choy, beet greens, young radish greens, etc.)
  4. Serve greens on a bed of quinoa
  5. "Eater-season" (when the eater seasons at the table) with salt, peper, braggs liquid aminos, and anything else to the eatter's liking.
  6. Enjoy!

A bit fancier:

  1. Chop-up some tomatoes and any other available vegetables
  2. Stir-fry veggies in a medium sized sauce pan
  3. Half-way through the cooking process, add some tomatoe paste and 2 or 3 Tbs of peanut butter. Simmer on low.
  4. Serve in a shallow bowl on a bed of quinoa.
  5. Eater-season with salt, pepper, braggs liquid aminos, and anything else to the eater's liking. 
  6. Enjoy!

Get Creative - Embrace the Resourceful Spirit

There are few foods other than quinoa that so easily lend themselves to experimentation and improvisation. With an abundance of fresh produce, meals are only limited by the imagination. Take the common bowl of chili: not particularly healthy or unhealthy, chili becomes a healthy meal when it's served on top of a warm spoonful of quinoa. And this is just one quick recipie idea.

For another example and helpful idea, read the article Oatmeal in a Jar. Wherever one's location, it's possible to acquire this resourceful culinary spirit. To do so, think of all food items in the pantry, fridge, and even freezer as "fair game." Think of flavors and textures that might work well together. Most importantly, find a source of enthusiasm to embrace. Stories come to mind of individuals who sleep with their incubating yogurt! (Only to saddly learn that the yogurt must be still overnight, lest it not thicken. Read the article How to Make Yogurt! Seriously.)

Have a crazy idea? So did the maker of thousand isle dressing who thought to combine ketchup and mayonnaise (now so popular that some burger joints market this simple combination as "fry sauce," seriously). The most wonderful of creations come from experimenting, so don't be afraid to get creative. After all, the term "saucy" had to come from somewhere. As a good and general rule, however, limit your intake of processed foods. This will reduce waste, improve your health, and likely improve your creative spirit with regards to jumping outside the box (of mac-n-cheese or another quick and unhealthy food, in this case) and creating quick and healthy meals.

Whether it's with wanting to eat quick healthy food such as quinoa or another food through a simple and easy recipe, always remember: Work smarter, not harder.

Cook Whole Food!Credit: morguefileCredit: morguefile